Marcus Smart has a message for teams wanting him to defend bigger players

Marcus Smart has a message for teams wanting him to defend bigger players

BOSTON -- The growth in Marcus Smart’s game defensively has been undeniable, earning him the status of being one of the NBA’s premier defenders. 

But this season, it seems Smart has taken his defense -- and in doing so, the Celtics -- to another level.

Smart's elevated defensive play was on display in Boston’s 116-106 win over the Dallas Mavericks, a game in which Smart matched up at times with Luke Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, who are taller than Smart by four and 10 inches, respectively. 

Despite the height disadvantage, Smart was equally up to the test limiting both players under his watch.

Doncic led all scorers with 32 points while shooting an efficient 11-for-21 from the field. 

While guarded by Smart, however, the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year had just two points while missing four of his five shot attempts.

The struggles were even more pronounced for Porzingis, who missed all three of his shot attempts with Smart defending him. 

Coming into Monday’s game, players defended by Smart who are 6-foot-8 and taller shot 40.7 percent on a combined 11-for-27 from the field. 

Take out Kevin Love's 4-for-8 performance against Smart last week, and the remaining 30 players he has defended who are 6-foot-8 or taller are a combined 7-for-19 (36.8 percent). 

Defending taller defenders is something Smart embraces.

“I love it,” Smart said. “It’s a challenge that I love every time I get the call. I pride myself on the defensive end. That’s where I earn my keep. Matched up against those guys, I never think of it as a disadvantage for me. I think it’s an advantage for me on both ends.”

In addition to his strong play defensively, Smart is also averaging a career-high 11.1 points per game this season while shooting 37.3 percent from 3-point range -- also a career high. 

Smart obviously is looking to score more going forward, but he remains focused on defense, something he has been really good at for a long time. 

And this season, he appears to be even better, which is why Smart has a simple message for teams looking to create what they believe are mismatches that force Smart to guard bigger players. 

“Keep it coming," Smart said. “Plain and simple, keep it coming."

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Wizards, which tips off Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Tommy have the call of the game at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.

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Bryce Brown hits franchise 3's record in Red Claws loss

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Bryce Brown hits franchise 3's record in Red Claws loss

The Maine Red Claws were in action at home at the Portland Expo Center on Saturday night hosting the Delaware Blue Coats, taking a 128-123 loss to fall to 7-4 and fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

Tacko Fall wasn’t in action, but Bryce Brown was simply furious, leading all scorers with 43 points 15 of 17 from the floor overall and a franchise single-game record 11 of 11 three-pointers. Tremont Waters was terrific, too, with 18 points and 11 assists.



Brown, an undrafted free agent who helped lead Auburn to its first Final Four appearance last spring, was simply unconscious for the Claws. He shot a perfect 11 of 11 from three-point range to give him an absurd effective field goal percentage of 1.2 for the game.


Waters, the Connecticut native, was crafty in his distribution, with just four turnovers to go with his 11 assists.

Yante Maten (18 points), Vincent Poirier (18) and Justin Bibbs (10) also scored in double-figures for the Red Claws.


The Red Claws return to action Friday in Des Moines, Iowa to face the Iowa Wolves, with tipoff at 8 p.m. ET.

Don’t miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Cavaliers, which tips off Monday at 6:30 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live, then Mike & Scal have the call of the game at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game through the MyTeams App.

Happy birthday, Larry Bird!

Happy birthday, Larry Bird!

Anytime is a good time to watch highlights of the greatness that was Larry Bird playing for the Celtics.

But on Larry Legend's 63rd birthday? It's time to break out the best of No. 33...

The fight with Dr. J in 1984:

The 60-point game against the Hawks in '85:

The steal against Isiah Thomas and the Pistons in '87:

The "you are watching was greatness is all about" duel with Dominique Wilkins in '88:


Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Cavaliers, which tips off Monday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Tommy & Mike have the call at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.